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Portugal is the perfect holiday destination year-round, with its mild climate, 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and more than 500 miles of splendid beaches, plus superb cuisine, fine wines and hospitable people.

Can British travellers go to Portugal?

resized_1Not at the moment. Portugal’s borders are closed to travellers coming from the UK, unless they are Portuguese nationals or have legal residence in the country.

The UK Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to mainland Portugal, and the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores. There are no direct flights between the UK and Portugal following a flight ban that is due to remain in place until at least March 1 (with a few exceptions, including for repatriation flights).

British and Irish nationals returning from Portugal to the UK must go into quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days, and cannot use the test-to-release scheme.

Find out more about the situation in Portugal here. Amenities are open, in accordance to the guidelines from the National Health Authority, with the exception of nightclubs, which remain closed.

Travellers should observe rules on social distancing and should wear face masks in all enclosed public spaces and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing of two metres can’t be maintained.

There is also specific information on safety measures in Madeira here, the Algarve here and the Azores here.

What can travellers expect on arrival in Portugal?

Passengers travelling to Portugal, including Madeira, Porto Santo and the Azores, must provide a certificate confirming a negative PCR test result taken within the previous 72 hours. This will be required at check-in and airlines may deny boarding if passengers cannot provide proof of their test result.

A state of emergency was implemented across Portugal on January 16, requiring everyone to stay at home. Schools remain open along with essential shops and health services, but attractions, entertainment venues, hairdressers and gyms are closed, while restaurants and cafes remain open for takeaways or home deliveries only.

Mainland Portugal
All passengers travelling to airports in mainland Portugal (Faro, Lisbon and Porto) will be required to show they have filled in a Passenger Locator Card (PLC) from the Portuguese Health Authority. The digital form is available here.

Passengers will be sent a link to the form by their airline at the time of booking and reminded at various stages before embarking the aircraft. Once they have completed the form online, they will receive an electronic receipt which they will need to show to airline staff at the gate prior to boarding, either as a printed receipt or on a mobile device.

Travellers going to the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores must comply with different entry requirements.

Tourists are now eligible for direct entry to Madeira without the need for testing if they can provide a vaccination certificate or proof of recovery within 90 days.

To be eligible, tourists who fall under these new conditions must prove their status through one of two documents:

1) Passport or vaccination certificate validated by the respective country of origin and state the name, date of birth, health number, type of vaccine, date of the two doses taken and respect for the period of immunisation according to the instructions for each vaccine.

2) Proof of Covid-19 recovery in the last 90 days, validated by the respective country of origin and state the name, date of birth, health number, type and date of the test and the explicit mention “recovered”.

Any of the above documents in English must be submitted to the app madeirasafe.com before the trip is made.

If passengers travelling from the UK cannot prove the above requirements, as before, they must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test carried out within 72 hours before arrival, or take a test (free of charge) on arrival, then self-isolate until this can be followed up with another PCR test five to seven days after the initial test.

You can find more information about entry procedures to Madeira here.

Wearing a mask in public at all times is compulsory in Madeira. This measure does not apply to:

  • Children up to 10 years old.
  • People with special needs or disabilities.
  • People playing sports.
  • Beaches, bathing areas and complexes, except for sanitary facilities where the use of a mask is mandatory.
  • Physical activity and/or leisure that involves physical effort.
  • Recreational and sporting activities in the forest or recommended walking routes.

The wellbeing and protection of citizens and tourists visiting the archipelago of Madeira continues to be the priority.


The Azores archipelago is currently under a state of emergency, and the arrivals procedures to the islands have temporarily changed.

  • All passengers travelling to the Azores have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test either on paper or in digital format taken within 72 hours of departure.
  • The document needs to be issued by a recognised laboratory and must include the passenger and laboratory identification, the date of the test, and must be signed by the person who carried out the test.
  • Provided the test is negative, visitors should then register their trip via the My Safe Azores website. There are further requirements for those planning to travel beyond the main island of São Miguel.
  • Visitors staying in the Azores for longer than six days will be contacted by the local health authority, who will organise a second Covid-19 RT-PCR test to be taken on the seventh day.
  • Those staying longer than 12 days will need to be tested once again on the 12th day at a recognised facility in the Azores.
  • The regional government health authorities ask those visiting the islands to limit their movements and only travel around where essential, maintain social distancing and wear a face mask in public settings. There are restrictions on group gatherings, opening hours for restaurants and bars, and the opening of pools and other sports facilities.

For smooth entry into the Azores, passengers must fill out the Questionnaire for Risk Assessment and Early Detection of SARS-CoV-2 and submit the result of the test within 72 hours before the start of their trip. The questionnaire can be found here.

Find out more about arrival procedures in the Azores here.

How can British travellers fly to Portugal?

According to the UK Foreign Office, direct flights from Portugal to the UK are prohibited.

For the latest information on flights to Faro, Porto, Lisbon, Funchal, Ponta Delgada and Terceira, click here.

Are Portugal’s cruise ports open?

Passenger boarding and landing at Portuguese ports is not allowed, except for resident passengers.

What safety measures are in place in Portugal?

There are widespread safety measures in place in Portugal and Turismo de Portugal has developed a Clean & Safe stamp in line with WTTC measures, for all tourism venues, including hotels, local accommodation, tour operators and restaurants.

Outdoor gatherings
People must not socialise in groups larger than five. Wearing a face mask is obligatory for everyone over the age of 10 in outdoor public spaces, when social distancing two metres apart can’t be maintained.

Everyone must stay two metres apart and wear a face mask on public transport and in any enclosed space such as shops, public services or supermarkets. Public transport is limited to two-thirds capacity, as is car rental unless the driver and passengers are from the same household.

Restaurants are open with a minimum of 1.5 metres between tables, and face masks must be worn while moving around in the restaurant.

Museums, monuments and cultural spaces have reopened with specific circulation measures and social distancing. Cinemas, theatres, auditoriums and showrooms must have marked seats, reduced capacity and face masks are mandatory.

Each golf course follows the recommended health guidelines as well as specific measures established by the Portuguese Golf Federation.

There are no limits on occupancy, but each hotel or accommodation provider must follow rules on circulation, hygiene and cleaning procedures. Any property with a swimming pool must implement procedures for the prevention and control of infection, ensuring physical distance between users. 

Campsites and service areas for motorhomes have a maximum capacity limited to two-thirds of the area.

There are rules regarding social distancing and use of beach facilities and equipment. The level of occupancy will be shown using coloured flags at the beach, and travellers should download the Info Praia app, which will show real-time information on water quality and occupancy levels. Find out more about beach regulations here.

Portugal webinar

To watch our Travel Weekly webinar with Turismo de Portugal, Madeira Promotion Bureau and the Azores Promotion Board, click here.

PICTURES: GoodShoot; Bruno Carlos; Turismo de Portugal

Last updated February 19, 2021